Most Young Adults Aren’t … And They Could Pay A Painful Price.
How bad is financial illiteracy today? So bad that your adult children may be at risk of making some serious financial mistakes. Recent surveys have shown that many young adults are not only wayward financially, but also pessimistic about ever becoming wealthy.
Young women at particular risk. A 2006 OppenheimerFunds survey of women aged 26-39 found that 62% of respondents had no investment accounts at all, and that 67% were living paycheck-to-paycheck. In a 2005 Consumer Federation of America/VISA USA survey, 55% of the women polled between ages 25-34 had emergency savings of less than $500.
Surprising cynicism. In 2005, the CFA and the Financial Planning Association undertook joint surveys that illustrated a startling expectations gap. In the FPA survey, most of the financial planners contacted felt that more than 80% of young adults could amass $250,000 in net worth over a 30-year period, and that about 50% could accumulate $1 million of net worth in the same time span. But only 26% of the young consumers the CFA surveyed believed they could amass $200,000 at any point in their lives, and only 9% felt they could someday accumulate $1 million.
A little knowledge can be dangerous. Don Blandin, CEO of the non-profit Investor Protection Trust, commented that “the entry of most Americans to the securities market is by buying a product rather than understanding the process.” Too many young investors elect to fly solo into the stock market through the Internet; too many young homebuyers know just enough (but not enough) about mortgage and lease options. And then there’s the widely publicized case of 24-year-old Casey Serin (iamfacingforeclosure.com), now $2.2 million in debt as a result of what he didn’t know about real estate investment.
Prescriptions in progress. The Ad Council and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants have started a national campaign, Feed the Pig™, to try and correct this dilemma (learn more by visiting www.feedthepig.org). The National Council on Economic Education has also helped launch www.TheMint.org to provide young adults with vital financial principles.